Daily Archives: January 23, 2017

Sergio Ramos repairs Real Madrid title campaign with brace

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Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos made amends for his team with a brace against Malaga to keep the European champions in sight of the La Liga trophy.

Ramos fluffed his lines last weekend with a headed own goal against second-placed Sevilla that condemned his side to their first defeat since April 2016. It also closed the gap between the Europa League winners against table-toppers Real to just one point, although Los Blancos still have a game in hand.

But the Spain international showed his clear intent to repair the damage this week with two goals against Malaga that sent Real four points clear of his former club, albeit briefly before Sevilla closed the gap again the next day.

While Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo both missed clear chances, Ramos brought Real ahead by by powering Toni Kroos’s outswinging corner beyond Malaga keeper Carlos Kameni and struck again in the 43rd when he slid in a free-kick from his German team-mate from close range to net his eighth goal this season.

A remarkable feat for any defender, it is even more impressive as the goal was also Ramos’s sixth in the Spanish league this season — besting his previous record of five with half a season yet to come.

Despite ending the match with a high note, Ramos insisted that Real still needs support and solidarity from their fans — especially during hard times — as Real players were booed after suffering two consecutive defeats, first against Sevilla last weekend and subsequently against Celta Vigo mid-week at home.

“I’ve always said that we can never change the Bernabeu,” Ramos said. “I’ve spent many years here and like Marcelo said after the [Copa del Rey] game the other day, all of the great players have been whistled here at some point. It’s a wake-up call to make the team respond.”

“But it’s in the difficult moments that we need them to be behind us, not kicking us when we are down.”

“We know how our fans are and we like the way they are. The objective is that we all take this forward together.”

What’s next

Testing times lay ahead for Real Madrid. They face Celta Vigo away in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final mid-week, before hosting La Liga fifth-placed team Real Sociedad next weekend, before making a visit to Celta again.

Chelsea progresses to eight points on top of Premier League

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Diego Costa scored on his return to the Chelsea team, as the Premier League leaders won against Hull City to move eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Costa — cheered on throughout the match by his home fans, already made an early impact in just 10 second as he fired just wide from 20 yards.

The former Atletico Madrid striker then found his mark by converting a low cross from Victor Moses eight yards out in the seventh minute of first-half injury time.

The long stoppage period was a result of a head injury to Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason, who, following a clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, went to hospital after being carried off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask.

Cahill went on to seal the win by headed in Cesc Fabregas’ free-kick.

Chelsea are now eight points above second-placed Arsenal, the only other team in the top six to win this weekend.

Additionally, with 15 wins out of 16 league games and 13 clean sheets to boot, the Blues are very well on their way to a sixth Premier League title.

They will host London neighbours Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, and visit Liverpool — 10 points behind them — in the Premier League on 31 January.

 

Australian Open: Mischa Zverev ousts Andy Murray in 4th round

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Mischa Zverev, ranked 50th in tennis men’s World rankings, has ousted World No.1 Andy Murray in a surprising win at the 4th round of the Australian Open.

It was Murray’s earliest defeat in Melbourne since 2009, and the lowest-ranked player he has lost to at a Grand Slam since the 2006 Australian Open.

The Scotsman dropped serve eight times in the match that lasted three hours and 33 minutes, losing 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 at the Rod Laver Arena.

Zverev, had played with an attacking style that he used to great effect against Murray, serve-volleying 119 times and winning 65 points at the net, while dismantling the Briton’s second serve. While Murray ended the match with an impressive 71 winners to 28 unforced errors, it was not enough as he found himself pressured incessantly.

Murray started strongly and found himself lead 4-1 in the first set, but Zverev got the break back with a return winner and would not give the world number one a place to rest. The German continued with another break in game nine and moved ahead with a delicate drop volley, before seeing out the set.

Murray levelled at a set all with a rasping winner after again being pegged back twice, but from midway through the third set it was clear that Zverev was in command — taking five straight games to move two sets to one and a break up, and despite one nervous smash into the net — managed to serve his way to a great win.

“It was kind of easy to stay aggressive but it was tough to stay calm,” said the German. “I was expecting to maybe double fault in the last game but somehow I made it.”

Could this be the long awaited return of Roger Federer?

Zverev’s next opponent, Roger Federer, made it through to the quarter-finals of the Grand Slam after a five-set showdown against tournament fifth seed Kei Nishikori.

The Swiss maestro last won a grand slam in 2012 at his favoured Wimbledon grass court, but has since struggled. Injury forced him of the world’s top 10 for the first time in 734 weeks last November, and arrived in Melbourne ranked 17th — his lowest position since May 2001.

While he is the oldest man to grace a grand slam quarter-final since 9-year-old Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open, the elimination of tournament favourites Novak Djokovic and Murray would very well throw the competition out for his taking.